Homebrew Legends Interviews: Dr Wuro Industries founder.

Here we have our latest interview with Dr Wuro Industries founder Christian Gleinser, Christian have released a couple of fantastic looking 4 player C64 games with more on the horizon, take a moment to find out more about him and his work for his development label.

HBL

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you and any team members?

Where the magic happens.

Christian

Hi there, actually the exact number and identities of Dr. Wuro Industries’ team members is a secret. One of our most prominent member though is Christian Gleinser, also known to the scene as “ZeHa”. Okay, to be honest, the thing is basically run by one person, but sometimes there are of course some collaborations with some people who are helping out with the projects.

HBL

What was the first game you created?

Gloomy Nights and Living Dead

Christian

The first published game was the PC game “Gloomy Nights and Living Dead”, an arcade zombie shoot’em up which actually got published before everyone went nuts about zombies – in 2004. Since then, a few other games have come out, of which the most recent ones are actually games for the trusty (but not rusty) old Commodore C64.

HBL

Can you tell about Dr Wuro Industries, how it started, its mission statement and so on?

Christian

The thing started in 2004, back then as a two-people project actually. I was working on the game “Gloomy Nights” together with my then-girlfriend, who was the other member back then. We chose the name “Dr. Wuro Industries” to represent our idea of an underground laboratory run by the mastermind Dr. Wuro, telling his coding slaves to work on games. Nowadays I consider this story still to be somehow fun but we all get older, so I’m not trying to make a big mystery out if it. But that’s how it started and I still like using this name.

As of a mission statement, there isn’t really something like that, but for me, games have to provide instant fun and keep some kind of oldschool vibe. I don’t like most of the newer games, as they often seem to be more like an interactive movie to me. I have a lot of mantras and dogmas in my head about how a game should be, according to my personal opinion, but maybe more about that later 😀

HBL

What do you for a living now?

Christian

I’m working as a software developer, programming rather boring business software stuff, as this seemingly brings me more money than coding games. But on the other hand, maybe it’s better to keep this as a hobby instead of making a profession out of it, who knows.

HBL

Whats next?

Christian

I am currently working on a classic platform game with ladders and stuff, called “Shadow Switcher”. This game will be for the Commodore C64, my first computer and still a very popular platform – during recent years, a lot of new games came out for it, and I’m happy to be able to be part of that scene.

HBL

Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? (NES, Dreamcast or Spectrum)

Christian

To be honest, it might be tempting in a way, but since the Commodore C64 is really the only system that I really had in my life (except for the PC of course), it’s a natural choice for me. I feel at home on the C64, and even though it might be interesting to do some coding for e.g. the NES or the Spectrum, I haven’t got that strong feelings about those platforms and given the limited amount of free time I’d probably rather spend my energy into further supporting the C64 scene. But who knows
what might happen in the future…

HBL

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Christian

In a way, yes. I often felt like an outcast, because I basically stuck to oldschool gaming already in the end of the 90s. Newer games rarely caught my interest. Nowadays it’s nice to see more and more people understanding that old games or oldschool games can still be fun instead of regarding them simply as “old trash”.

On the other hand, there’s always some things coming back, whether in music or in movies or whatever, so probably that’s just natural. But it also somehow backs up my opinions about simpler games, or classic games, being “superior” in many ways. Because they provide a different kind of fun than compared with those modern “interactive movies”.

HBL

Do you have any games that are just sitting on your drives unfinished that you may release one day?

Christian

Of course there are lots of unfinished prototypes and stuff. But nothing really that I just have to wrap up and upload somewhere. Well, apart from “Heimat Games”, a game I originally created just for one festival. This one I will release someday, but the “wrapping up” still needs some time, which is hard to share with my other projects.

HBL

Can you tell us what prompted you to get involved in Retro Game Development?

Christian

As I already explained, I am a fan of classic games, so it’s quite natural to develop this kind of stuff, as opposed to more modern approaches. The thing that really got me into learning 6502 assembly language though, was the game “Joe Gunn”, which came out for the C64 in 2005 or so. This game was one of the first “new games” for the C64 that I heard about and I was really excited about this idea. It still took me some more years until I released something of my own though.

HBL

What games at the time (and now) would you say are your biggest inspirations?

Christian

It might seem strange, because they aren’t C64 games, but two of my all-time-favorite games are Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. In a way, I feel like a lot of the things I do are inspired by them, even though it might not always be obvious. But even the wall colors and the sound effects in my non-violent Android game “Paco” bear resemblance to Wolfenstein 3D. Also when I need inspiration even for “boring” stuff like the main menu or whatever, I sometimes look at how they’ve done it in Wolfenstein, for example.

As for C64 games, probably my main two inspirational games are “Boulder Dash” and “Wizard of Wor”. I really like those simple graphics, something that has become also one of my “dogmas”.

HBL

What is the biggest challenge you face with the limitations of the hardware, particularly as you continue to expand features title-to-title? (Memory? Graphical capability? Speed?)

Christian

Actually, my personal biggest challenge is that I’m not a super-experienced machine language coder. So the coding itself is sometimes a bit of a challenge. But so far, I didn’t really scratch the
hardware limitations of the C64, as my games have quite simple graphics and so on. That said, speed can really be sometimes a problem on the C64, as its CPU is rather slow. I have already experienced a few cases where I had to speed up routines with some tricks. But so far, I didn’t have to ditch game ideas because of them not being possible or something like that. Another limitation that really sometimes annoys me are the color choices on the C64. By that, I’m not talking about the palette itself, which I actually think is quite nice and unique, but the limitations about how these colors can be combined on the screen. Sometimes I create a screen mockup in a graphics program and fall in love with it, only to learn that I can’t have that part of the level or sprite in that specific color. This sometimes really drives me mad!

HBL

Do you have timelines built-in to the management of these games?

Christian

Not really, I try to finish them as quickly as possible for me and to release them “when it’s done”, but because I sadly can’t spend time coding on my games all the time, there can be weeks or sometimes months in which I don’t have much progress, or even any progress at all. But that’s something quite normal in the life of an indie developer, I guess.

HBL

How long does it take to create the graphics and music that you create? Is there a set routine that you use?

Christian

Usually my graphics and music are a bit simple in nature, not because I’m lazy or so, but because I admire the simple style of classic games, as I already mentioned earlier. So I usually don’t have problems finishing those assets in time. Usually they are already created while doing the mockups and maybe perfected somewhere along the road, but coding really takes the largest amount of time.

HBL

Which game you guys have released would you recommend to a first timer in this scene?

Christian

I’d say, check out “FROGS” and then “SHOTGUN”, both are 4-player games for the C64 and they are great and simple party-fun. Of course, that means you can’t play them on your own, but simply grab some friends and then have some fun 🙂

HBL

Tell us about frogs for the C64, what was the inspiration for this game?

Christian

The game idea was already in my head a few years before. I bought a OUYA console when it came out, and I had the desire to create a 4-player game for it. Eventually, at some point I got the idea for a frog battle game, though I really can’t remember how that popped into my head. Maybe
because I like the color green, I don’t really know. But then the OUYA went out of business, and I ditched the plans to create this game.

So finally, when I released “SHOTGUN” for the C64, a lot of people loved this fast-paced 4-player action game, so I remembered my ideas about that frog game and thought this might serve as a nice follow-up.

HBL

Shotgun looks a great game, what is the reasoning behind the 4 player games?

Christian

The reason is that in my opinion, local multiplayer games are lots of fun. You can’t play them everyday, and you can’t play them alone, but whenever there is a gathering of retro computing enthusiasts, it’s always great to have something running where several players can compete against each other. That was a reason for me to contribute to this kind of “genre” with my own game, which happened to be “SHOTGUN” (and later “FROGS”, as mentioned above).

HBL

Which game you have created are you the most fondest of and why?

Christian

It’s hard to choose because I usually like all (or most) of my creations, but probably “FROGS” has been the most popular so far, and I think that’s not just because of the game idea, but also because people like the graphics and the frog characters. And I’m really glad that this stuff makes people happy, so I guess my answer would indeed be “FROGS”.

HBL

What games company from back then was your favourite and why?

Christian

Actually, when I was playing on the C64 as a kid, I wasn’t really so much interested in the creators or companies behind the games. Later on the PC, and especially in retrospect, I think I had lots of nice gaming memories with games from Lucasfilm/LucasArts, and, obviously, idSoftware, creators of Doom and Wolfenstein (and lots of other nice games of the DOS era). But there were so many other great games by other companies, I really can’t name a favorite one. In the end, it’s the games that count, and there have been lots of great games in the past which have been written by indie developers or small teams – just as today!

Finally.

A huge thank you to Christian for taking the time to chat with us.

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